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Toast your fortitude in this unprecedented year with a bubbly cocktail

A trio of bubbly cocktails is perfect for an end-of-the-year celebration for one.
A trio of bubbly cocktails is perfect for an end-of-the-year celebration for one.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times; prop styling by Kate Parisian)

If you’re thinking, “A piece on sparkling wine for the year-end holidays, how original,” same. But nothing about this year has been familiar and, as 2020 extends into its final month, there is a strong case for seeking comfort in the traditions we can safely keep.

Enter bubbly-based drinks. While it’s not the year for bathtubs filled with ice and bottles of wine, shared noisemakers or lack of personal space, the practice of raising a fizzing glass to cap the year’s finish stands. These sparkling cocktails aren’t intended to reinvent the holiday wheel but rather to retain a celebratory feel while upping the ABV — alcohol by volume — because, well, 2020 has earned it.

Start with the bubbles themselves. For many, popping something on a special occasion equals Champagne. A valid practice, but sparkling wine isn’t solely France’s game. Quality, highly drinkable sparkling wines are created in a wide spectrum of styles and tastes from nearly every winemaking region and serve the same festive agenda. Many also come in at a lower price point than classic Champagne — an added plus when mixing into drinks. A few options to seek out: Prosecco, Franciacorta, cava, pétillant naturel (also labeled pét-nat), Sekt (care of Germany and Austria), domestic sparkling wines and Lambrusco.

If your celebration is decidedly smaller or you’d simply like to move onto other things after a mixed drink or two, seek out cans or a mini (also called a “split”) bottle. If you do choose a full-size bottle of bubbles and opt to save part of it, keep the bottle chilled in the refrigerator with a Champagne stopper or metal spoon in the open top and drink within a day — or two, at most.

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Once you have chosen your bubbles, break out the jigger and select your sparkling cocktail based on how far you want to stray from tradition.

Bubbles à l’Orange employs a classic sparkling wine. The mix of amaro and Cognac anchors its buoyancy while orange Curaçao lends sweetness. Lambrusco on the Rocks taps into a hearty red sparkling wine. Served on the rocks, it boldly mimics the spritz if the spritz had the collective 2020 experience and was in need of a heavyweight combination of reposado tequila, red bitter liqueur and vermouth. Finally, the Dirty G.L.T. omits sparkling wine altogether in favor of tonic and drinks as if a gin and tonic went home with a dirty martini — complete with a snack-sized portion of olives.

Whatever this past year looked like for you and however altered the traditions may be as you toast its departure, raise an effervescent toast to the end of it.

Bubbles a l'Orange

Time 5 minutes
Yields Makes 1 drink

Lambrusco on the Rocks

Time 5 minutes
Yields Makes 1 drink

Dirty G.L.T.

Time 5 minutes
Yields Makes 1 drink


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